ANYONE can do yoga – and you don’t have to go to class to see the benefits. This week yoga instructor Janine Thomas explores how cobbler’s pose can ease period pain and help to support fertility.
Let’s get this straight, I’m not saying that doing cobbler’s pose will get you pregnant. But it does improve blood flow to the pelvic area and stimulate the ovaries, which can only give you a helping hand.
It’s a handy posture during pregnancy for easing back pain and preparing for birth, too. Fertility and womb yoga — which emphasises female health — are hitting our shores from Britain, where classes are booming. But yoga in itself, specialist class or not, has the ability to reduce stress and balance your body both physically and emotionally, making conception more likely to take place.
If babies aren’t on the agenda, cobbler’s pose, or baddha konasana, can relieve menstrual pain quite dramatically. Men aren’t left out either — it is said to keep the prostrate gland healthy.
Add to that the delicious stretch it gives the groin, inner thighs and lower back, and cobbler’s is a pose that just keeps giving.
HOW TO DO IT
Sit on a yoga mat, carpet or a cushion. Bend the knees and hug them into your chest, lengthening the spine. Take a few breaths here to bring yourself into the moment and allow your mind to slow down.
Slowly drop your knees outwards, towards the ground, and bring the soles of the feet together. Lengthen the spine by moving the crown of your head towards the ceiling while grounding down with your sitting bones.
Bring the hands to the floor behind you. Press them into the ground and feel the hips open. Don’t let your bottom lift off the ground. Keep focusing on your inhale and exhale.
Now bring the hands to rest on the ankles or hold the feet, depending on your flexibility. ‘Butterfly’ the knees by gently moving them up and down to open the hips even more. Bring the knees to stillness.
On your next inhale lengthen the spine and then, as you exhale, start to move your body forward, folding from the hips. Think about moving your heart towards the front of the room, not your head to the ground, to avoid rounding the spine too much.
Come back to your breath, extending the spine on every inhale and folding a little further forward on the exhale. Don’t worry if you don’t move far! As my teacher, the fabulously zen Norman Blair once told me, there is no correlation between happiness and being able to get your nose to your toes.
Work here for as long as you like, using your breath to deepen the stretch. To release, simply push the hands into the feet and, on an exhale, slowly lift the body upright.
Hug the knees into the chest for a few breaths to finish. Notice how any strong sensations that you felt in the hips during cobbler’s pose drift away.
CAN ANYONE HAVE A GO?
For some, cobbler’s pose will be enough of a challenge without folding the body forwards. If this is you, then don’t push it. With practice, your hips will open.
If you have a knee injury, rest the sore side on a cushion for support. And anyone with a groin or hip injury needs to go slow.
Published in the Irish Daily Mail, Tuesday March 10, 2015
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